Make It Better
(ITC Movie title "The Devil's Web")
Original UK transmission: 11th January 1975
Original US transmission: 24th February 1975
WRITTEN BY: Brian Clemens
DIRECTED BY: Shaun O'Riordan
PRODUCED BY: John Cooper
MAIN CAST: Diana Dors (Bessie Morne), Cec Linder (Edgar Harrow), Linda Liles (Charley Harrow), Michael Culver (Simon Burns), Andrea Marcovicci (Ruth Harrow), Ed Bishop (Carson), Patrick Troughton (Lyall), Tiffany Kinney (Suzy Harrow), Alan Wilson (Mr Fuller), John Rapley (Dr Ward), Wendy Williams (Mrs Fuller)
In a shabby room, a dishevelled man lays asleep with a bottle of whisky nearby, surrounded by several large "The End Is Nigh" placards. He begins to toss in his sleep and cry out, as he dreams of a man dozing against a tree who is approached by a woman holding a burning stick. The woman smiles and leans forward as if to burn the man, at which point the priest cries out "...must stop her!" and wakes. He answers a knock at the door and it is the man from the dream, his face scalded; the priest says that he can't help, but the man begs "You must help me". "Help you, brother?" he replies, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal an identical burn mark on his chest.
Spirited American girl Charley Harrow breaks her back in a riding accident and has been confined permanently to bed, when a charismatic new nurse called Bessie turns up on the doorstep. Seemingly steadfast, kind and efficient, Bessie takes charge of Charley and wins her over where all other nurses had failed. The family warm to her, but in reality Bessie is an apostle of evil and promises the despondent Charley her mobility in return for her soul. Only one person suspects Bessie: Charley's nervous sister Ruth, who decides to investigate the new nurse's background more deeply, with deadly consequences.
This one really goes over the top with the supernatural elements - even more so than Season One's "Spell Of Evil". Diana Dors' superb performance as the evil Bessie however saves it from getting too unbelievable, aided by some simple but effective makeup (including a gigantic ugly mole made from a "Rice Crispy"!). Linda Liles gives a fiery performance as the uncontrollable Charley, and would return in Season Six's Dial A Deadly Number. It's just a shame that Patrick Troughton's character Lyall wasn't given more to do.
TV TIMES CLIPPING
Note: the dvd release of this episode is the "ABC format" version shown in the US in February 1975. It has a couple of extra minutes of extra scenes not featured in the ATV version (which was screened on British satellite channel Bravo in 1996). A couple of slight modifications were made for the dvd version, with the title "THRILLER" superimposed at the start (as the ABC titles were slightly different to the ATV version) and UK-style adcaps substituted for the US adcaps (unfortunately these have been placed incorrectly - "Part Two" should begin at 21'47" and not 28'16", and "Part Three" should begin at 42'23" not 46'22").